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Friday 20 May 2022

Tourist couple spent night hiding in Tunisia museum, worried gunmen were still around

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs has updated it’s travel advice for Irish people planning to travel to Tunisia.

Cristina Rubio in her hospital bed today.
Cristina Rubio in her hospital bed today.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

SPANISH TOURIST JUAN Carlos Sanchez was waiting in Tunisia’s leading museum to go have lunch with his tour guide when a man came streaking past, fleeing gunshots.

As gunmen fired on tourists, Sanchez and Cristina Rubio, who is four months pregnant, hid in fear — and stayed in hiding all night, hours after police killed the two gunmen and the museum’s other visitors were escorted to safety.

“We saw a man come running in chased by the shots of a terrorist. We just saw the man who hit the floor and realized that someone was shooting and went to hide,” Sanchez told The Associated Press in the maternity ward of a Tunis hospital told

We hid in a small room and that’s where we stayed until the police saw us today and then we left.

Sanchez’s voice was steady but his eyes were still wide as he recounted the attack and ensuing all-night vigil at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis.

“We spent all night there and we thought the terrorists were still outside,” he said.

But it was simply the police who were searching for people. We thought they were terrorists out there and that’s why we didn’t venture out.

After they emerged safely after dawn today, Rubio sat in the maternity ward, in a bed with a tray of uneaten couscous and other hospital food, smiling as they received a visit from Health Minister Said Aidi.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told reporters in Valencia that Spanish consular officials and police had searched all night for the couple, who were neither listed among the 23 dead nor among those found safe after yesterday’s attack on the National Bardo Museum in Tunis.

Tunisia Attack A woman sets up candles during a demonstration in front of the National Bardo Museum. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Separately, the two gunmen who stormed Tunisia’s national museum and killed 21 people before being shot dead themselves were carrying “terrible explosives”, the country’s president said today, praising security forces for preventing further bloodshed.

“We found terrible explosives on those people that they did not have time” to use, President Beji Caid Essebsi told France’s TF1 television, adding that the police response had prevented “a catastrophe”.

The Islamic State jihadist group has claimed responsibility for the brazen attack, which left 20 foreign tourists and one Tunisian dead and raised fears of a surge in Islamist extremism in the birthplace of the Arab Spring.

Here at home, the Department of Foreign Affairs has updated it’s travel advice for people planning to travel to Tunisia.

“Irish citizens in Tunis are advised to avoid the Bardo Museum and surrounding areas, and to exercise extreme caution when in this area,” the update said.

With reporting from AFP and Associated Press. 

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